The two-day visit of Donald Trump to India ended, with the US president looking quite excited with the talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Indian businessmen, and the deals signed between the two countries during this tour. His biggest deal with India related to defence, but the trade deal was no mean achievement either.
I leave it to India: Trump on Kashmir & CAA
Right in the beginning of his tour, Trump flagging the concern of radical Islamic terrorism that both India and the US face highlighted the intent with which the American president conducted this tour.
“Prime Minister Modi and President Trump denounced any use of terrorist proxies and strongly condemned cross-border terrorism in all its forms. They called on Pakistan to ensure that no territory under its control is used to launch terrorist attacks and to expeditiously bring to justice the perpetrators of such attacks, including 26/11 Mumbai and Pathankot. They called for concerted action against all terrorist groups including Al-Qa’ida, ISIS, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Hizb-ul Mujahideen, the Haqqani Network, TTP, D-Company, and all their affiliates”, the India-US joint statement said.
Trump underscored the India-friendly gesture when he refused to take journalists’ questions on the riots happening in Delhi during his visit. He told a pesky reporter, “I have heard what is happening, but I leave it to India.”
On being pressed harder to say something on the Indian parliament amending the citizenship law of 1955, which excludes Muslim infiltrators from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan from citizenship rights, Trump once again said, “I leave it to India.”
Another contentious issue that came up during the talks at the ITC Maurya hotel was Jammu and Kashmir. Trump clarified that he never “offered” to “mediate” but added that there are always two sides to a story and if needed, he will do what it takes.
US president surprisingly quieter on Indian levies on imports from America
Another significant development in the three days was Trump not pressing India hard to relax its levies on American imports without reciprocity from the US.
Interestingly, the US president had been crying hoarse about it for more than a year, but his American interest coupled with American protectionism did not get the better of the tour.
The two sides signed a deal of $ 3 billion, under which India will purchase 24 Romeo helicopters, but that’s just a part of the whole deal.
“Noting that a strong and capable Indian military supports peace, stability, and a rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific, and reaffirming his pledge to support the transfer to India of advanced US military technology, President Trump welcomed India’s recent decision to procure MH-60R naval and AH-64E Apache helicopters. These capabilities will advance shared security interests, job growth and industrial cooperation between both countries”, the joint statement said.
“The increasing defence and security cooperation between India and the United States is a very important aspect of our strategic partnership. Cooperation in ultra-modern defence equipment and platforms will enhance India’s defence capabilities. Our defence manufacturers are becoming a part of each other’s supply chains”, Prime Minister Modi in the joint statement.
Security, energy, health, technology
Trump and Modi discussed homeland security, energy, technology and trade as well.
One of the biggest successes of Trump’s tour was the deal between American energy company Exxon Mobil Corporation and Indian Oil Corporation (IOC). India is going to take American help in transporting gas through containers in cities where there is no pipeline. This initiative will increase the use of clean fuel in the country and will enhance cooperation in the energy sector between the two countries.
India and the US agreed on a new mechanism to address serious issues like drug trafficking, drug-related terrorism and organised crime.
The two countries concluded three bilateral agreements in the health and energy sectors: A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on mental health, the second one that deals with the safety of medical products and a Letter of Cooperation was also signed by Indian Oil Corporation and ExxonMobil India LNG Limited, with Chart Industries of the US.
Both countries will soon finalise a bigger trade deal. Explaining this, Union Minister Piyush Goyal said it would be a limited trade agreement first. “It has been discussed and finalised. We will examine it legally and will soon come to the final conclusion,” the minister said.
Both the big economies have decided to move towards a Free Trade Agreement (FTA). Asked how fast India and the US can finalise the FTA, the commerce minister said, “I personally feel that we can reach a free trade agreement more quickly for 2-3 reasons.”
Statistics from the Ministry of Commerce show that in the year 2018-19, there was bilateral trade of $ 87.95 billion between India and the US. India’s bilateral trade with the US stood at $ 68 billion in the period April to December in 2019-20.
The US is among the few countries with which the balance of trade is in favour of India. In the year 2019, India retained its status as the ninth most important trading partner of the US with a surplus of $ 239 billion. Crude oil played the most important role in this trade between the two countries.